Published 13th April 2012
The Railway Magazine Sponsored Barrow Hill Weekend gets under way with many railway personalities enthralled by the show!
rail.co.uk was privileged to be invited to the preview day on April 12 at the Barrow Hill ‘Fab Four’ Gala. This provided an uncrowded opportunity to review the location as visitor numbers were strictly limited.
This meant that those able to attend could take advantage of the many photo-opportunities without rushing! Also taking advantage of the relaxed atmosphere were many railway luminaries such as Sir William McAlpine, Helen Ashby from the National Railway Museum and Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of South West Trains admiring the exhibits. The local ‘Chain Gang’ Mayoral Dignitaries were also obviously enjoying themselves as well!
The latter was previously MD of East Midlands Trains who provided one of their High Speed Trains to UK Railtours for a Charter service from St. Pancras direct to the event. His next challenge commences at the end of April when he takes over the new trial Government project at the end of April, heading up the Integrated Wessex Alliance between SWT and Network Rail.
Former 1960s Kings Cross ‘Top Shed’ Shedmaster Peter Townend was also present savouring the steamy atmosphere inside the engine shed built around a turntable in the centre. The Shedmaster was obviously very much at home and was still in much demand by locomotive staff for tips on their locomotive and engineering skills.
A special charter train was run to the event from St. Pancras by UK Railtours and they are the only Charter Train promoter who guarantees never to cancel a service, even if bookings are low. As with most of their trains, the Barrow Hill Flyer was sold out.
An impressive LNER display of steam power with two ’A4s’ in original 1938 condition. The World steam speed record holder Mallard was on site as a suitable substitute for Flying Scotsman next to Bittern, Blue Peter and Green Arrow. Completing the line-up was a Deltic, introduced to take over from steam 50 years ago.
Tornado and The Great Marquess were also in steam on display along with several smaller locomotives. The roundhouse, (actually square!) had many steam diesel and electric locomotives on display surrounding the turntable.
Normally out of sight is The Brighton Belle restoration project. Their base can be accessed at Barrow Hill for this event and is not to be missed.
So there is something for everyone at this event and to reach it, travel by train to Chesterfield and there is a vintage bus service direct to the exhibition site. This is one of the two major railway events this year, the other is the National Railway Museum’s Railfest from June 2 to June 10 inclusive.
Remember that Railfest has many charter trains running to it. Vintage Trains run a steam service on June 9 from Tyseley, Coileshill and Tamworth to York while UK Railtours run a High Speed Train on June 2 from St. Pancras, Luton and Kettering.
rail.co.uk will carry a full report on the Fab Four event shortly